|Page 2 of 2 <|
In Pakistan, ex-spy Khalid Khawaja's killing is surrounded by mystery
Omar, he said, "is a very reasonable man."
But Omar, who still leads the Afghan Taliban, is not based in North Waziristan. That has long been the domain of the Afghan Taliban's Sirajuddin Haqqani and the Pakistani Taliban's Hafiz Gul Bahadur, both of whom have tacit peace deals with the Pakistani army. Recently, however, a military operation in neighboring South Waziristan pushed fighters who attack state forces to the north, and Punjab-based splinter factions have also set up shop in North Waziristan.
Accounts vary wildly about what Khawaja and Tarar -- who also were accompanied by a filmmaker -- intended to do in that thorny region. Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, a former Pakistani Army chief, said at Khawaja's funeral that they wanted to make a documentary. Khawaja's son told Pakistani television that his father intended to broker a peace deal between the military and Pakistani Taliban forces that attack inside the country.
The killers, however, said Khawaja was a spy. Tarar and the filmmaker, meanwhile, remain captives.
"There was a time when you could take the name of Colonel Imam and go anywhere," a senior Pakistani intelligence official said in an interview. "That was a long time back."
With much of the case still a mystery, Pakistanis are filling in the blanks themselves. As often happens, many point fingers far beyond the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
At the funeral, Beg said Islamist militants could not possibly be the killers. The name "Asian Tigers," he said, "smells of the south of India." At the same time, he said, the United States wants Pakistan to take on militants in North Waziristan, which gives them a motive to instigate turmoil there.
Usama Khawaja, the ex-spy's son, simply said it was "surely a conspiracy." Beyond that, he was stumped.
"My father," he said, "had many secrets in his chest."
Special correspondents Shaiq Hussain and Haq Nawaz Khan contributed to this report.